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Polish artists defend Russian band Pussy Riot

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 04.08.2012 08:00
Leading figures in the arts in Poland are fronting a nationwide appeal calling for leniency in the ongoing Moscow trial of Russian band Pussy Riot.

Members of Pussy Riot are led to court: photo - EPA/Maxim Shipenkov

Oscar-nominated director Agnieszka Holland, internationally acclaimed artist Wilhelm Sasnal and historian Jerzy Jedlicki are championing the cause, as three members of the Russian band face possible seven-year jail sentences for hooliganism.

The appeal follows an open letter by British musicians to Russian president Vladimir Putin published in UK paper The Times, signed by Pete Townsend (The Who), Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), Neil Tennant (The Pet Shop Boys) and Johnny Marr (The Smiths) among others.

Three members of the Pussy Riot band were arrested after holding a sonic protest on 21 February in Moscow's Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

The masked band – often described as a feminist punk-rock collective – performed a song beside the altar calling on the Mother of God to “chase Putin away.”

The incident outraged members of the Orthodox Church, and the three band-members currently on trial have already been languishing behind bars for five months.

Polish film director Agnieszka Holland has spoken out in defence of the group.

“The situation in Russia is becoming increasingly alarming,” she told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, which is gathering signatures for the Polish appeal for leniency.

“I am appealing to the Russian authorities to act more appropriately in this situation, because what they are doing at present is ridiculous,” she claimed.

“It is necessary to protest before it's too late,” she concluded.

Nevertheless, President Putin himself gave an unexpectedly conciliatory comment on the situation during a diplomatic visit to London on Thursday chiming in with the Olympic Games.

“I don't think they [Pussy Riot] should be judged too severely for this," Putin told reporters when quizzed at a press conference in London.

“But the final decision rests with the courts – I hope the court will deliver a correct, well-founded ruling,” he said.

Putin's one-day trip marked the first time that he had visited the UK in seven years after the diplomatic stand-off that followed the unsolved poisoning of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. (nh)

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